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Search Privacy: Could the Government Take the Next Step?  (View post)

Bálint [PersonRank 1]

Saturday, January 21, 2006
15 years ago

that's okay, but like you said a post before, why are we talking about child porn here?

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

15 years ago #

Bálint, it's indeed not about child porn. I clarified the article's introduction to Daniel's quote by adding "in reply to my post on that the government’s demand is not about child porn, to which Daniel agrees". I also added more context to the quote, as the first sentences that follows below:

"Yes, it's about children getting exposed to porn because filtering doesn't work well. But, even if the newspapers misreported this, it's rather a lucky mistake. Think of it as a "Freudian slip." The government gets millions of search terms, and then is in a position to find a bunch where someone is actually looking for child porn."

Daniel was replying to "In Google vs Government, It's Not About Child Porn", so that's why he used the child porn example in his hypothetical next step. That's why I added "illegal queries" and "how to build a bomb" after Daniel's quote when I wrote the post.

Patrick Konsor [PersonRank 1]

15 years ago #

Is it really illegal to just search for child porn? I can, of course, see why it's illegal to go to a store and buy it (or something similar) as you're diliberatly obtaining it, but that's not so on the internet. You could follow a link to a search you didn't mean to, or you could could just misspell a query, or you could search for child porn but intend to view anti-child porn material, or you could just be using the search engine as a spell checker (which I do often).

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

15 years ago #

Patrick, also, you might not even have searched for something – a site could include a hidden iframe in the HTML that would make you search for "how to assassinate someone" etc.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

15 years ago #

(Added Lessig's name to the post.)

Patrick Konsor [PersonRank 1]

15 years ago #

Indeed, there's many, many ways this could happen. It seems completely non-trivial to correllate a search for illegal material to actually doing something illegal. In fact, I doubt the government would actually use search queries as evidence for anything; considering the huge holes in it, if they ever did try it, it would almost certainly be shot down quickly. It seems more likely that the government would just use search queries to help build a profile on a person, similar to how they may use public library logs; they can't go to court and say "We know you killed your wife because you check out the book 'The Idiots Guide to Killing Your Wife'", but they can establish that you're a bit more predisposed to; it seems that that would be the logical, and probably legal, application that governments might use search data for.

Is it legal for the government to subpeona personal identifying information on everyone that search for a sensitive query? It almost certainly shouldn't be. The anology used makes it seem as if it is legal, but I'm not sure that the anology is accurate. Wouldn't it be more like.. The government goes to Wal-Mart and asks for personally identifiable information for all people who bought ammunition, as it may (though certainly not always) be used in an illegal activity.

Milly [PersonRank 10]

15 years ago #

Philipp, if you've got an open dialogue with Lawrence Lessig, you might ask him how the Protective Order would affect any such attempt by the DOJ to pursue 'interesting' search terms they come across.

The Protective Order (which exists in the COPA-related litigation, and upon which Google are told to rely) restricts all parties (including the Attorney General) to "[...] using Confidential Information only for purposes directly related to this action [...] and not for any other litigation or proceeding or for any business, commercial, competitive, personal or other purpose."

On its face, the Protective Order would appear to prevent such litigation creep, but who, at the moment, would be surprised if the Pennsylvania District Court turned out not to be the highest authority on such matters?

Milly [PersonRank 10]

15 years ago #

Jeez, I keep to myself for a month and all my PersonRank drains away! ;)

Jon Swift [PersonRank 1]

15 years ago #

I would like to explain some of my searches in case Google loses its case:
jonswift.blogspot.com/2006/01/ ...

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

15 years ago #

Milly, your PersonRank is fixed :)

Jon, those should come in handy... heheh

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

15 years ago #

Milly, Larry points out he's not commenting on the specific Google case here. He adds if the court says "you can't use this material for any purpose except X," then that indeed restricts its use.

/pd [PersonRank 10]

15 years ago #

But Philipp, the court has not placed that caveat in the order!!

Where has the Court declared that the DOJ has to only the information for X. Then, I would like to see the same for X1,X2.. and so forth for MSFt/YAHOO/AOL data and how that was used...!!

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

15 years ago #

(OK, I will leave the post as it was for now and leave updates to the forum.)

Bob [PersonRank 0]

15 years ago #

It would be intersting if every one with a internet connection did a google search with all those nasty terms. Maybe a little story in the NY Times suggesting this would be fun.

Gee my google stock is down 8%.

/pd [PersonRank 10]

15 years ago #

As a sidebar, its important to understand that as Larry points, that your 'toast'.

DOJ and .gov (under the Patriat ACT) now can order your ISP for the audit trial on IP, the Host Provider for log files , and your email host for contents of your communiction bin.. not to mention track and seize all computers that you have logged onto from which ever office/compuse..

if given the right (askewed data/facts).. then this becomes as what is termed as "false postives". i.e. Data which seemingly points to something, but in reality the case is reduntant. It has already destroyed mulitple familys, created extra ordinary renditions and the GutoBay situations.....

now google some of these terms to see what it returns... :)

Milly [PersonRank 10]

15 years ago #

I don't know whether Larry's brevity is because he's being vague or absolute.

Even if the latter, the Order itself allows for applications to the Court for a ruling to have certain material excluded from the "Confidential" designation. Who knows how the Court might rule if and once some 'interesting' search terms are in the hands of the authorities?

Besides, as the current wiretapping scandal shows, opinions differ as to what comprises the predominant court order ...

/pd, I'm not sure what you're saying/asking: the Protective Order gives blanket protection to any party providing information which (reasonably) asks for it.

(Thanks for restoring my PR, Philipp. I can sell it now, right? ;)

/pd [PersonRank 10]

15 years ago #

Milly: I agree the "protective order" only covers google and not the party who did the "search term"!! Correct ??

Google can produce the data and use the protective order as a cya strategy.

Milly [PersonRank 10]

15 years ago #

/pd, the Order covers the use of the information provided. So if the DoJ want to look further into a provided search term, say [bomb-making parts delivery CA 94093], they apparently can't (if and until that Order is pierced by the same Court, or some higher authority).

To that extent, it protects both Google and whoever (or whichever IP, GUID, etc) made that search.

As for Google's motives, who knows? Legal documents might be slightly more reliable than press releases, but it's still possible (common, even) to lie about motives within them, and almost impossible to discern the truth from what is said or claimed.

*All* the facts which have some out so far would support both extreme points of view (that Google are white knights standing up for our privacy rights, or that they are being cynical and self-serving whilst aiming to score some PR points). Anyone (outside of Google's top ranks) who thinks they *know* which is true ... is wrong.

My guess is that the DoJ don't intend to bootstrap these subpoenas into wider investigations, but that Daniel is about right about Google's stance: blogoscoped.com/archive/2006-0 ...

And if I may shove in an immodest but pertinent link, my GoogleAnon page (to which GMSV and BoingBoing referred) is much more than just a Google cookie anonymisation bookmarklet, it's also a resource of quotes of and links to lots of related information and opinion: imilly.com/google-cookie.htm

Finally, I'd assumed the legal docs had already being linked here, but just in case:
  

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Milly [PersonRank 10]

15 years ago #

Jon, I finally got round to your search justifications: very funny, as is the rest of your blog :)

I keep meaning to start a blog, then I read ones like yours and realise how dull and clumsy mine would seem. (Not to mention being overawed by our host's gobsmacking powerhouse of information, invention and humour).

Robert F. Robillard [PersonRank 0]

15 years ago #

What if I ask ask Google, "what is child porn"? Will the small shrub and his minions come knocking on my door?

How long before Court ordered searches become obsolete? The Administration can always claim they are part of the War Against Terror.

I fear that Civil Liberties are an endangered species in this country, today. It appears that the Administration has thousands of people working on ways to remove the phrase, Civil Liberties, from common usage.

Wondering if I will have to resign my citizenship out of contempt and disgust.

/pd [PersonRank 10]

15 years ago #

Milly: "they apparently can't (if and until that Order is pierced by the same Court, or some higher authority). " – yes the same court which is the supreme court , can do whatever too. But they are not striking the motion down till then. Till then, its just a matter of opinion and the whys, what, which facts that the DOJ are seeking. Peiord. Once the motion is either vetoed or struck down, then its just hypothetical (imho)!! :)_

NB : Cookie Scandel / Wire Tapping / Extra Ordinary Rendation, False Positives, 6 yr old child appearing on the DHS No flying list ?? et etc have all occured within the last 6 months... just like the statement : "THEY HAVE WMD" ...

its pretty ridicules and secondly, I dont understand how the amercians can tolerate their own tax paying dollers being shoved up their own "-- where the sun does not shine" atttiude of the current "regime" of the US executive office.!!

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

15 years ago #

From Newsweek's Steven Levy:

<<Though the government intends to use these data specifically for its COPA-related test, it's possible that the information could lead to further investigations and, perhaps, subpoenas to find out who was doing the searching. What if certain search terms indicated that people were contemplating terrorist actions or other criminal activities? Says the DOJ's Miller, "I'm assuming that if something raised alarms, we would hand it over to the proper [authorities]." Privacy advocates fear that if the government request is upheld, it will open the door to further government examination of search behavior.>>
msnbc.msn.com/id/10965524/site ...

Bourne Identity [PersonRank 0]

15 years ago #

Well done Google! Why should Bush or anyone else have access to OUR private information? I know while Google still fights I'll continue to their search engine opposed to Yahoo etc...Hope everyone else takes heed and does the same thing (PLEASE)....... [personal attack removed]

KING OF NARNIA [PersonRank 0]

15 years ago #

Maybe the solution is not to protect children from the evils of porn on the internet but protect children from the internet altogether! This so called information has bred the meanest and misguided generation of youths ever perhaps the "information" should not be avalible to the uneducated impressionable young minds that should be out side climbing trees and enjoying the world before the "educated adults" desroy it compleatley!! UNPLUG THE CHILDREN FROM THE INTERNET, THE CELL PHONE,AND THE DVD PLAYER AND YOU WILL SOLVE 80% OF THE WORLD'S PROBLEMS. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME THE TV WASN'T ON FOR A FULL DAY?

Jon Swift [PersonRank 1]

15 years ago #

Thanks for the nice coment, Milly. But I say don't be like Google and censor yourself. Start a blog. "Let a thousand flowers bloom." I think George Washington said that.
jonswift.blogspot.com/

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